Dutch TraditionsThe Netherlands is a country of many traditions, ranging from the extraordinary Koninginnedag (Queens Day) to the bicycle culture and the floral parade. This article itemises a number of Dutch traditions and also describes how they are represented in Zuid-Holland.
One of the best known traditions in The Netherlands is Saint Nicholas. This bishop from Myra (Turkey), is the most important figure in the annual children feast days and is celebrated on December 5.
Together with his assistants named as ‘Zwarte Pieten’ or ‘Black Petes’, each year Saint Nicholas arrives in The Netherlands by boat from Spain. This occurs sometimes halfway through November. Many activities are organised throughout the country as everyone on the street and in the shops are celebrating Saint Nicholas’ arrival.
During his visit to The Netherlands, Saint Nicholas surprises the children with small presents in their shoes and on ‘present’ evening, his birthday, he delivers presents throughout the whole of The Netherlands. Even adults join in as they give each other presents, play games such as dice or write poems for each other.
Koninginnedag (Queens Day)
Another famous Dutch tradition is the celebration of Koninginnedag. During this national holiday (April 30) the Queen’s birthday is celebrated and on this day the Royal House also plays an important role. The Royal Family visits several cities where plenty of activities have been organised, such as ‘koekhappen’, a traditional Dutch game where you try to eat a cookie hanging from a string. Everything in The Netherlands also gets coloured in orange on this day.
One important part of Koninginnedag is the Vrijmarkt (Free Market). All sorts of effects are sold on the Vrijmarkt while various festivities take place, including spectacles and concerts. In Zuid-Holland, more particularly in Den Hague, a large Vrijmarkt is organised at the ‘Malieveld’ with music spectacles and a ‘Queens’ fun fair, which is undoubtedly worth a visit.
Haring happen (Herring bites)
Haring Happen, or ‘Herring bites’ is also a typical Dutch tradition. One event that keeps this tradition alive in Zuid-Holland is the Vlaggetjesdag (Banner day) in Scheveningen. Vlaggetjesdag celebrates the arrival of the new herring, a delicious freshly caught fish. On this day, fresh herring is served with corn wine, on a backdrop of music, dances, a miniature ship display and colourful markets.
Cycling is also a leading characteristic of The Netherlands where the bicycle has traditionally been used as a main transport means although it is also used for leisure. Envisioning The Netherlands without bicycles is inconceivable since they are everywhere, as much on the road as parked alongside it.
Zuid-Holland offers countless possibilities for cycling. There are numerous cycle paths that let you discover South Holland’s breathtaking nature.
You can find several cycle routes in the database
Another renowned annual tradition is the flower parade, during which a procession of carriages superbly decorated with flowers rides through the streets. This procession is often accompanied by various music bands.
One famous flower parade in Zuid-Holland is the Bollenstreek Flower Parade which takes place in April. For this occasion, spectacularly decorated carriages ride from Noordwijk to Haarlem.
The Rijnsburg flower parade in Zuid-Holland is also renowned. This takes place in August when a colourful procession travels through Rijnsburg, Katwijk and Noordwijk. A variation to this flower parade is the Varend Corso Westland (Floating Westland Parade), in which boats are decorated with local produce.
The Leids Ontzet occurs each year on October 3 in Leiden and celebrates the liberation of Leiden from the Spanish occupation on October 3, 1574. The whole city joins in the celebrations during the Leids Ontzet; markets and fun fairs are scattered throughout, and for the evening, convivial activities are organised for young and old, including music bands and DJs!
You can find more information regarding the events in Zuid-Holland in our Events database.